Ernest White likes to swim almost every day, and that's what drew him to Ellicott House.
Many rental communities in the area offer swimming pools, but at Ellicott House, a mid-rise on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington, the pool is inside.
"The indoor pool was a real attraction. I immensely enjoy it," said White, an investment adviser and self-described above-average swimmer who moved here from Los Angeles a couple of months ago.
The apartment building caught his attention when he was on the West Coast going through rental ads. It wasn't the pool, though, that was the deciding factor. After White had narrowed his search to three rental buildings, the friendliness of staff members was what made him pick Ellicott House.
They were not pushy, he said, and he was impressed by the way they seemed confident in what the building had to offer and in their knowledge of the area.
"They offered what I needed to make a smooth transition," White said. Employees volunteered tips, directions, helpful telephone numbers. They even suggested a nearby recreation center where his 7-year-old daughter, Monae White, takes gymnastics and dance lessons.
"I don't know of any better area in D.C. to live," he said.
Friendliness also drew Adriane Abe, a Georgetown law student from Brazil. Abe was having a hard time renting an apartment. Because she wasn't a permanent U.S. resident, many rental buildings turned her down.
But the management at Ellicott House was accommodating, Abe said, only requiring that her parents act as guarantors. She brought the good news to some of her classmates who were also having trouble finding places to rent. Two other people from her program moved to the building.
For Lisa Hall, a resident of two years, picking Ellicott House was a matter of getting more for her rent money.
While apartment hunting, Hall visited at least 20 other buildings on and near Connecticut Avenue, she said, only to find out that at Ellicott House she would enjoy more amenities than elsewhere.
Her rent would be about $100 higher, she calculated. In other buildings, though, she might not get carpeting, or a dishwasher. Perhaps there wouldn't be a fitness room, or a laundry room on each floor. Ellicott House had them all.
"I got a lot for that $100," Hall said.
Cristina Pinares, a psychology major at the University of Maryland who moved in a year and a half ago, did the math differently. She considers living expenses at Ellicott House to be less than in nearby buildings because utilities are included and appliances are new, she said.
Most prospective residents come to Ellicott House because of its location, said resident manager Lilian Corley. "I say it's 15 minutes away from anything," Corley said. Most tenants want to enjoy city living without being too close, she said.
Corley has been living in the building since she started managing it. She said it not only helps her to do a better job but it also calms the worried parents of some of her student tenants. "When they meet me and know I live here too," she said, "they feel a little more secure."
Corley coordinates a staff of 16 people who commonly do little things such as water plants and get the mail when residents are away. Staff members also organize community parties and breakfasts.
But for resident Sylvia Abrams, Ellicott House is not about the parties, the price or the amenities, although she enjoys them. Details such as paintings in the halls on every floor are what make a difference for her.
It's not an anonymous building, but one with a distinctive touch and a welcoming air, said Abrams, who has lived at Ellicott House for more than 20 years.
"The fact that I've stayed for so long means that I love it," she said.
4849 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
* Application fee: $30
* Security deposit: $300, refundable
* Lease term: One year
* Utilities: Included
* Amenities: Indoor swimming pool; hot tub; picnic areas; fitness room; business center; tennis courts; 24-hour front desk
* Parking: Garage parking, $100 monthly
* Pet policy: No pets
APARTMENT SIZE QUANTITY SQUARE FEET MONTHLY RENTAL
EFFICIENCY 130 450 to 675 $800 to $1,050
1BR/1BA 279 700 to 750 $1,075 to $1,350
2 BR/2BA 20 925 to 975 $1,500 to $2,000